Plans In The Works To Relieve Congestion On Highway 169

Thursday, May 22nd 2014, 10:45 pm
By: Tess Maune

A distracted driver may be to blame for the crash that killed an 8-year-old girl in Owasso. Two cars and two pickups were mangled on Highway 169 during morning rush hour.

Police suspect a driver didn't see traffic ahead slowing down. The girl was killed and two other people were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

5/22/2014 Related Story: Owasso Police: Distracted Driving May Have Caused Wreck That Killed Child

Drivers say crashes are all-too-common, but there are plans that could relieve the congestion.

"Traffic is horrific. It's just bumper to bumper," said driver Troy Lovvorn.

Drivers say the gridlock on Highway 169 near Owasso is an everyday thing; and with all the traffic, comes the inevitable.

"There's all kinds of wrecks on 169," Lovvorn said.

While it would be easy to place the blame on the roads, Oklahoma Department of Transportation Spokesperson, Kenna Carmon, said those behind the wheel are ultimately the biggest factor.

"Looking down for just an instant can cause an accident, so drivers really need to make sure they're taking the responsibility, making sure that they are in control when they are on the roadway," said Carmon.

Carmon said 100,000 vehicles drive along 169 in south Tulsa every day. The farther north, she said, that number tapers off to about 50,000 through north Tulsa and Owasso.

The highway is wider where it's more heavily traveled, but Carmon said a construction project would replace eight bridges and widen the highway from four to six lanes between 56th Street North to 66th Street North.

That project would likely start sometime next year.

"While we do hear from people saying we need to make these improvements, we also hear the flip side of people saying, ‘the construction's in my way.' So, it's a little bit of a dual-edged sword for us there," Carmon said.

The department is also conducting an environmental study that could possibly lead to widening lanes between 66th Street north and Highway 20.

"There's a lot different factors before we can even get to a design phase," said Carmon.